MINUTES of the meeting of the SHARED MANAGED SERVICES TOPIC GROUP held on 8JUNE 2012


Members of the Topic Group:

D Andrews (Chairman), M D M Muir, S Quilty, P A Ruffles, R G Tindall (Vice-Chairman

Officers present:
Hertfordshire County Council
Stuart Campbell, Assistant Director Performance and Improvement
Angela Bucksey, Assistant Director Property and Technology
Jill Digby, Head of Improvement
Ian Armitage, Head of Business Improvement team
Chris Badger, Programme Manager, Public Health and Integrated Care
Fiona Day, Head of Partnerships and Quality Unit
Michael Francis, Head of Customer Services
Tom Hawkyard, Head of Scrutiny
David Roberts, Head of Member Services
Nigel Bates, Senior Development Director
Matthew Bramwell, Hertfordshire Operations Director
Karen Duggan, Customer Co-ordinator, Services Solutions
Pauline Pickering, Head of Social Care Access Service

Also Present:

A M R Searing (Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee

1.1 / The Topic Group noted the appointment of David Andrews as Chairman and Ron Tindall as Vice-Chairman.
The general information on the Topic Group scrutiny process was noted.
3.1 / The remit of the Topic Group set out in the scoping document, was noted.
The objective was to scrutinise the Shared Managed Services (SMS) partnership/contract between Hertfordshire County Council and Serco which was established in April 2011, including itscontribution to Hertfordshire County Council’s Transformation Programme.
The questions to be addressed were:
1) What were the original objectives of the SMS partnership, and to what extent have these been met?
2) What were the original objectives of the SMS District Framework, and to what extent have these been met?
3) Does Hertfordshire achieve value for money from the Serco SMS contract?
4) How successfully has the SMS partnership contributed to the HCC Transformation Programme?
5) What potential is there for further development of the partnership?
The Topic Group meeting was divided over a number of sessions as described below:
4.1 / Overview of the core SMS contract and framework.
The Topic Group considered a report, presented by Stuart Campbell, giving background information on the award and operation of the contract.
4.2 / SMS operation – Serco perspective
The Topic Group received a presentation from Matthew Bramwell entitled “Serco core contract performance in Hertfordshire”. (The presentation slides are appended to these minutes – Annex 1)
4.3 / Broadening and Deepening Overview
Nigel Bates gave a presentation entitled “Transformation and Service Deepening” (presentation slides are appended to these minutes – Annex 2) on the transformation toolkit and journey mapping used by Serco.
4.4 / Health and Community Services – broadening and deepening
Chris Badger introduced a presentation on “Implementation and Delivery of the Social Care Access System” (presentation slides also appended – Annex 3) with contributions from Pauline Pickering, Fiona Day, and Ian Armitage.


4.5.1Members were pleased to hear that over the 8 years of the SMS relationship HCC has contracted for Serco to deliver guaranteed savings of £35m, approximately 19% of the pre-contract costs, with forecast additional savings of around £12m coming from the existing transformation business cases. Members welcomed this contribution towards the Council’s transformation target of £200m by 2014/15 and the partnership work being undertaken with Serco. They asked that further work should be undertaken to see if it was possible that the relationship could contribute more savings towards the transformation target e.g. through the commissioning opportunities that are likely to become available through the development of the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Clinical Commissioning Groups where Serco/HCC should be encouraged to investigate potential opportunities for further SMS partnerships.

4.5.2 Members noted that, to ensure continuing value for money, there are also provisions within the contract for regular benchmarking exercises to be undertaken by Serco at their cost, to ensure that the contract price remains competitive over the full 8 years. They also endorsed the work being undertaken by HCC officers to engage with other authorities, learn from them and apply this learning to the SMS relationship.

4.5.3Members were advised that when the contract was established the in-scope services provided KPIs against which performance could be measured. It has become apparent that there may be too many (circa 200) and in some cases they are not ‘SMART’. Members asked that a review be undertaken of the KPIs to identify which are the main KPIs, grouping them together by service and then deciding whether some can be removed and others simplified. Members agreed that all that are left must focus on outcomes. They also recognised that there may be a need for additional KPIs as services transfer to Serco. Members asked that their member performance reports be altered to reflect these changes.

4.5.4Members took evidence from the Serco Operations Director. They were pleased to hear that Serco thought the first year of the contract had been successful, albeit challenging. Members welcomed the progress being made to implement an internal helpdesk ‘Ask Us’ which provides staff with a single point of contact for all their back office queries. They also noted the improvement in customer satisfaction across all services, in particular noting the continual improvement in the performance of the ICT service desk from a low starting base in April 2011. They asked to be kept informed on a regular basis of customer satisfaction levels and the progress being made to implement the ‘Ask Us’ service.

4.5.5Members were advised that the key strategic objectives for the SMS District Framework were to put in place the ability for the 10 Herts Districts and Police Authority to “call off” contracts to enable them to benefit from the HCC procurement, subject to individual business cases. The framework contract that has been established allows the Hertfordshire Districtsand Police to buy any of the services which Serco are providing to the County Council at rates based on the marginal cost. Members were told of the latest position regarding call-off from the SMS contract by the Districts and Police. Members welcomed the progress to date but asked that further encouragement be given to extending the take-up both through the work of officers and those members who are twin hatters.

4.5.6Looking to the future the ongoing programme of Service Improvement Plans (SIPs) for the core services provides the mechanism for Serco and HCC to work together to improve the efficiency of the core services. In addition, the Customer Transformation Programme (CTP) allows Serco and HCC to work together to identify and develop new opportunities, supported by robust business cases, to improve the customer journey and deliver further efficiency savings. The partnership allows Serco to comment on areas outside of the SMS contract scope where improvements could be made. (It was noted that any such developments require an appropriate process and cannot be simply delivered by Serco). Members welcomed the sharing and transfer of information with them when services are transferring, as evidenced in the HCS case study, and asked officers to consider whether this approach could be further developed.

4.5.7Members recognised that some of what HCC was doing with Serco was cutting edge. They asked that changes continue to be introduced in a controlled way, concern being expressed that if too much was undertaken at once the result could be failure. Whilst Members supported the desire of HCC and Serco to extend the advantages of SMS countywide they were unanimous in expressing the view that any work undertaken should not impact on the performance and services of HCC which should remain at the core of operations. In particular members highlighted:

  • Social care access, where they recognised the desire to maximise online access but asked that due care should be taken of those Hertfordshire residents unable to access services online.
  • SAP, where although members recognised that changes had to be made to the system because of factors such as legislation and tax changes asked that changes should not be made that undermine current sound accounting principles and so avoid disruption to a system that they felt needed a period of stability.

5.1 / The Topic Groupmade the following recommendations:
(a)To undertake further work to see if it is possible that the relationship with Serco could contribute more savings towards the transformation target.
(b)To continue to learn from the work undertaken by other authorities and apply the lessons to the SMS relationship.
(c)To further rationalise the existing key performance indicators (KPI) with a view to reducing these to a smaller number which are measuring the key service outcomes.
(d)To advise members on a regular basis of the Customer Satisfaction results, the performance of the ICT help desk and the implementation of the ‘Ask Us’ helpdesk.
(e)To give further encouragement to the take up of the SMS District Framework using officer contacts and member influence to help achieve this.
(f)To work closely with Serco to continue to improve the sharing of performance information with members as services move from HCC to Serco.
(g)To work with Serco to extend the advantages of SMS county wide whilst ensuring this should not impact on performance and services to HCC should always remain at the core of operations. / Director Resources and Performance/ Executive Member Resources and Economic Well-Being


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